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How to make homemade hand sanitiser and are they effective

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World health organization (WHO) and Center for disease control and prevention (CDC) recommend using soap and water as the preferred and most effective way of cleaning your hands. Hand sanitisers should only be used when your hands are visibly clean and if you do not have access to clean water and soap. This article does not endorse making home sanitisers at home if you can find a commercially available hand sanitiser with more than 60% alcohol content. Remember, if you do not do have correct measurements of ingredients the hand sanitiser may be ineffective against protection or cause other damages to your health. The information provided in this article is without warranty of any kind – expressed or implied. The responsibility for the interpretation and use of the material lies with the reader. In no event shall the World Health Organization or Felicity Plus be liable for damages arising from its use.

How to make homemade hand sanitiser and are they effective

With recent Coronavirus outbreak and all the health organizations such as WHO and CDC emphasizing on healthy hand hygiene practices such as regularly washing hand with soap and water or using a hand sanitiser has created a surge in demand for hand hygiene products in market. With the news of increased cases in profiteers stocking up on hand sanitiser has created a crunch in hand sanitisers in the market while the same product is being sold online on Amazon and ebay for more than 200% of their actual price. The supermarkets though promised products availability soon and enabled rationing of the product but it has been weeks and the shelves are still empty.

As there is no clear information on when hand sanitisers will be back in shelves, people are left with the question on what to do until the items are back. This gave rise to people putting in different recipes on how to make hand sanitiser at home. Though it is understandable on why there is a need to make hand sanitiser at home, the bigger question is, if these hand sanitisers are effective?

So we thought of discussing about two methods of making hand sanitisers at home and see if they are worth the effort.

How to make Hand Sanitiser at home – Method 1

Recently this method gained popularity after many blogs and websites showed this easy method of preparing hand sanitisers at home. The reason why it gained so much popularity is because it is easy to make and obviously you cannot find any hand sanitisers in market. In this method all you need is an iso-propylene alcohol, Aloe Vera gel, Tee Tree Oil and a small bottle to keep the prepared solution.

As explained by these websites, to make this hand sanitiser at home all you need to do is the following –

  1. Take 2/3 cup of Iso-propylene in a bowl.
  2. Add 1/3rd cup of Aloe Vera gel to it.
  3. Add few drops of Tee tree oil
  4. Now mix it well and pour it into a small bottle which you can carry with you.

In some cases, it was mentioned to straightaway add these items to the bottle and shake it well.

While the cup measurements are fine however they are not accurate based on how people may take these measurements. As per WHO and CDC, for a hand sanitiser to be effective against bacteria and viruses it should have an alcohol concentration of more than 60%, the more the better. In this case, if people take correct proportions then the alcohol concentration should be greater than 65%.

We made small amendments to this method and used Surgical spirit since it was easily available in the market than iso-propylene alcohol. We also used measuring glass to keep our measurements correct.

  • Take 80 ml Surgical Spirit (95% ethyl alcohol) in a bowl
  • Now about 20 ml Pure Aloe Vera Gel to it.
  • Add 4-5 drops of Tee Tree oil
  • Mix it well and put it in a small bottle.
Picture of home made hand sanitiser using Alcohol and Aloe Vera
Home made Hand sanitiser – Cloudy mixture made using Ethyl Alcohol and Aloe Vera Gel

Via this method you should get approx 100 ml of a hand sanitiser with more than 75% alcohol in it. However, we saw that the Aloe Vera gel does not mix well with the alcohol and you may see a white cloudy solution as a result of this. On applying some amount to the hands, it seems alright to us though the hands felt a bit dry.

How to make Hand Sanitiser at home – Method 2

This method is similar to Method 1 of preparing hand sanitiser however here instead of Aloe Vera gel we used glycerin. This method is based on WHO recommended guide to local production of hand sanitisers. If followed correctly, via this method (a minor variation to WHO method) we estimate that you should get a hand sanitiser with above 75% alcohol content which is also a bit smoother to your skin. Again we used measuring glass so we can be as close to measurements as possible.

  • Take 80 ml Surgical Spirit (95% ethyl alcohol) in a bowl
  • Now about 15 ml Glycerin (98%) to it.
  • and add 3 – 5 ml hydrogen peroxide (3%).
  • Now add 4-5 drops of Sandalwood essential oil. You can also use Tee Tree or Lavender essential oil or any other essential oil as this is to mask the alcohol odour.
  • Mix it well and put it in a small bottle.
Picture of home made hand sanitiser using Alcohol and Glycerin
Home made Hand sanitiser – Clear mixture of ethyl alcohol and glycerin

Now keep the bottle to rest for a day or two before you can use it as a hand sanitizer. Your home made hand sanitizer is ready to be used. Take palmful of hand sanitizer in a cupped hand and rub it thoroughly. You should ensure how to wash your hands properly for better protection.

Hydrogen peroxide is used to inactivate bacterial spores in the solution and is not an active substance in the hand sanitizer. Alcohol is the main substance that helps disinfect your hands while glycerin takes care of your hands and keep them soft. Via this method you should get approx 100 ml of a hand sanitiser with more than 75% alcohol content. As you will see this hand sanitiser looks and feels the same as any marketed product and helps you disinfect.

Home made hand sanitiser side by side comparison
Home made Hand sanitiser made using Ethyl Alcohol and Glycerin appears much promising.

What we recommend?

As you can see the second method produces a much better final solution – the hand sanitiser which you can use to disinfect yourself when on the move. The reason is that glycerin and alcohol mixes much better than alcohol and Aloe Vera gel. In case you see your hands go dry a bit you should apply some moisturizer cream twice during the day – morning and evening.

However, we recommend the following –

  • Always wash your hands properly with soap and water only if possible. However, hand rub aka hand sanitiser should only be used when you are outside and do not have access to clean water and soap. WHO and CDC recommends use of soap and water as the primary and most effective way of cleaning your hands.
  • Always check if you can get a hand sanitiser from the market from a known brand with more than 60% alcohol content. If a hand sanitiser brand does not show proper alcohol content then the concentration may be low. In such cases check if it claims removal of 99.99% germs etc, if so then it should be fine. The main reason for using commercial hand sanitiser is because companies perform proper alcohol checks and ensure that their hand sanitiser is quality checked – meaning they have tested the hand sanitiser properly and that it is effective against killing germs – kills 99.99% germs claim.
  • By making hand sanitiser at home you can only make assumptions on the concentration of alcohol and its effectiveness. Bacterial spores may also cause problems hence you must be careful. If your final product has too much Alcohol, this may lead to skin burns due to Alcohol concentration hence be cautious. Too much use of hand sanitisers whether homemade or commercially available may lead to dry skin and similar issues hence it should be used in limited quantity only when there is no access to clean water and soap and you think you may have touched infected areas such as in public transport.
Carex is a popular hand sanitiser
Carex Hand is a popular hand sanitiser readily available in the market. Carex Sanitiser claims – Kills 99.99% of Bateria. Contains 70% Alcohol

Few people recommend using Vodka of different brands to make hand sanitiser at home, however you need to understand that Vodka has only 40% alcohol in it and this is far below WHO and CDC recommendation and therefore ineffective. Adding Glycerin or Aloe Vera gel to Vodka will further lower concentration of alcohol. Even if you use Vodka in exact proportion as mentioned here then you will be left with a hand sanitiser with only 30% alcohol content and therefore won’t help you anyways. In short, do not use Vodka to make hand sanitiser at home.

We understand that many profiteers have created lot of shortage of hand sanitisers in market and this has left many people vulnerable to Coronavirus infection. During these testing times, if you do not have access to a branded hand sanitiser you can make one at home for limited use only but always keep your proportions right. Always remember – washing hand with soap and water is the preferred method and should be used whenever and wherever possible.

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